New boiler flue and soil pipe - can a premium be charged by freeholder?

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    New boiler flue and soil pipe - can a premium be charged by freeholder?

    Hi there, I am a leaseholder in a 2nd floor flat in victorian terrace.

    I plan on changing the internal layout which involves moving boiler flue and connecting a new bathroom soil pipe to the existing soil pipe outside. I am allowed to make internal alterations , however I would be most grateful if I could get some guidance on whether making a hole in the outer half of the external wall is covered by the usual 'consent not to be unreasonably held' scenario.

    The alterations will involve making new holes in external wall and making good the old holes.

    Can the freeholder withhold permission, or, if granting permission , can charge he me a premium to do so or just reasonable admin costs?

    The lease says :

    Not to make any structural or external alterations or any additions to the Premises without the prior written consent of the Landlord.

    Also says - (in rights granted) The right to free and uninterrupted passage and running of water sewage gas electricity telephone and other services or supplies to and from the Premises through the Pipes to and from other parts of the Building that are now or may during the term be in under or over the building

    The right at reasonable times and upon reasonable notice to enter the other parts of the Building for the purpose of executing repairs alterations and renewals to the Pipes serving the Premises the Tenant immediately making good all damage caused by exercise of this right

    FYI 'Pipes' definition includes flues

    Thanks in advance




    #2
    I was told by a managing agent that the freeholder cannot block the provision of services into your flat .

    Pipes and flues are not "structural alterations" or "additions to the premises" : You are not removing the walls and you are not adding extra living accommodation.

    Comment


      #3
      You will need consent and freeholder will likely charge.

      I am not aware are of any legislation that permits you to bash holes in someone else's building because you want to move your boiler.

      Comment


        #4
        In most leases you are granted the inner surface of the wall and the fabric of the wall is retained by the freeholder

        Therefore, whilst alterations within the flat can be done and the landlord in almost all cases cannot unreasonably withhold consent that does not apply to the fabric of the wall which is of course outside your demise

        So the landlord can withhold consent, and you have to negotiate the terms with the freeholder

        The lease will give you rights to services, but that is through the conduits that were in place when the lease was granted

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          #5
          I agree with sgclacy. It's entirely possible for a new soil pipe run to be entirely inappropriate so the landlord has to retain some sort of control.

          Comment


            #6
            Hi all, many thanks for your advice

            The freeholder has come back with a fee of £650 for their 'legal fees' and £1500 for the 'landlord's costs' in regard to license for alterations.

            To me this sounds completely excessive. Should I be questioning these fees and if so how should I approach it? While I understand there is a cost for a solicitor to draw up a license to alter , should there be any other reasonable costs involved their end that would amount to £2150?

            I have been careful my end to make sure all plans are compliant with building regs and have been drawn up by qualified structural engineer and architect.

            The scope of work as mentioned above is modifying 2 structural walls and changing the internal layout of the property including re siting soil pipe and boiler flue.

            Re the lease wording - I am allowed to make structural changes to the property subject to consent and internal non structural alterations are allowed.

            Thanks

            Comment


              #7
              For something like this, where the freeholder is under no obligation to give permission, they often will ask for amounts that are basically extortionate. The requested fees, both for "legal fees' and "landlords costs" will usually be somewhere between the highest amounts that a tribunal is certain to consider reasonable and the amount that leaseholders would almost certainly challenge at a tribunal.

              Usually it won't be considered worth the time and expense of challenging the costs.

              There's no harm in asking for an explanation of the costs, but remember that there is no obligation for leaseholders to 'shop around' for the best price, so costs that seem high can be considered reasonable by tribunals. The freeholders will likely argue, for instance, that they need to hire an independent surveyor to look at what you plan and assess how the work will affect the building - and to then inspect the work to make sure that it is completed to a sufficient standard.

              Comment


                #8
                Thanks all for your advice. I will accept that I have no other option but to pay the money.

                I have however asked for a draft of the licence to alter so I can review it before paying the £2150 for it. My freeholder is refusing to show me any draft of the licence and asking me to cough up without knowing of any restrictive clauses contained in the agreement.

                How would you best resolve the situation, am I the only one who thinks it’s extremely unreasonable to part with that amount of money without first seeing what I’m paying for? They have previously told me that their 7 page agreement is the same across their portfolio but when asking for a draft they have just replied :

                ‘All licence are different and specific to the property and are drafted on a flat by flat basis the likely terms include:

                PARTIES
                BACKGROUND
                AGREED TERMS
                1 INTERPRETATION
                2. CONSENT TO CARRY OUT THE WORKS
                3 CARRYING OUT AND COMPLETING THE WORKS
                4 THE CDM REGULATIONS
                5 FURTHER PROVISIONS RELATING TO THE WORKS
                6 NO WARRANTY BY THE LANDLORD
                7 COSTS
                8 THE RIGHT OF RE-ENTRY IN THE LEASE
                9 INDEMNITY
                10 NOTICES
                11 LIABILITY
                12 THIRD PARTY RIGHTS

                Unfortunately I am unable to draft the licence until payment of funds has been made and I have the signed letter from you back.’

                Comment


                  #9
                  Do you know the other leaseholders in your block of flats ? Do you have long leases fallen below 90 years ?

                  If you can find support from a majority of leaseholders, you should consider making "collective purchase" of the freehold title to remove the freeholder who is try to extort you.

                  Alternatively, you should set up RTM company which may be a cheaper way but not as good as buying the freehold title .

                  Comment

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